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In an Unusual Move, Govt Extends Army Chief General Pande's Tenure by One Month

This means that the government that takes over on June 4 will be in the position to appoint the next army chief.
General Manoj Pande. Photo: Screenshot from YouTube video

New Delhi: The Government of India on Sunday (May 26) extended the term of Army chief General Manoj Pande – meant to retire on May 31 – by one month.

According to the official statement, the Appointments Committee of Cabinet “approved the extension in service of Chief of the Army Staff (COAS) General Manoj C Pande, PVSM, AVSM, VSM, ADC for a period of one month, beyond his normal age of superannuation (May 31, 2024), i.e. up to June 30, 2024, under Rule 16 A (4) of the Army Rules 1954”.

General Pande was appointed to the post on April 30, 2022. An Army chief has a term of three years or until the age of 62, whichever comes sooner. General Pande turned 62 on May 6, and hence was meant to retire at the end of the same month.

This is a rare move, and means that the government that takes over on June 4 will be in the position to appoint the next army chief. According to The Indian Express, “As per the norm, the most senior Army commander or the Army vice chief is made the Army chief when the serving COAS retires. But it remains the government’s discretion to appoint a service chief.”

AIMIM leader Asaduddin Owaisi has criticised the decision to extend General Pande’s tenure, saying, “The Narendra Modi government was well aware of his date of retirement and should have announced a replacement long ago. Our armed forces should be kept out of politics by the ruling party but over the last decade, we have seen the Modi regime use and misuse our soldiers for its electoral benefit. We have seen this on the China border where our soldiers are unable to patrol to the LAC. This latest move on General Pande again reflects poorly on PM Modi, defence minister and all those involved in decision making on India’s national security.”

That the extension given to Gen Pande is only for one month means it is a temporary measure, essentially showing the complete lack of governance in this regime. If it is not incompetence, then it has to be something more sinister and conspiratorial,” he continued.

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